After writing about shelters, a novelist is moved to adopt

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Greg with dogs 028.jpg

Greg Kincaid at home with his dogs

Editor’s note: Greg Kincaid’s first novel, A Dog Named Christmas, hit shelves on Tuesday. The book tells the story of a special young man who inspires his entire town to take in dogs from the local shelter.

Greg lives on a farm in East Kansas with his wife, Michale Ann. He and his family had always taken in stray dogs who “found them,” but after writing the book, Greg was inspired to adopt from a shelter. He will be blogging here each week about his search (on Petfinder, of course!) for the perfect dog.

This fall, Christmas came early. On my wish list was launching my new book, A Dog Named Christmas, finding a good truck and, finally, settling on the perfect dog to go into it.  

In October, I finally found the right truck. It’s a real  beauty — a 1982 Ford  F-250 with only 80,000 miles. The search took me several months, but the book was worse: That was about nine years from start to finish. The effort that went into the truck and book were significant, but picking the right dog … I had no idea! It was quite a journey, but I can’t remember when I’ve had more fun.

To research A Dog Named Christmas, I had the privilege of visiting shelters and meeting some of the most amazing people — many of whom have made it their life’s task to care for creatures who want nothing more than a home, a place where they belong. Before I wrote this book, I had never been inside a shelter. In my mind, it would have been too painful. Like most of us, it was easier to pretend that the problem didn’t exist and, even if it did, it wasn’t really my problem. Frankly, like some of the characters in my book, I was carrying around a flawed perspective.

I learned something important in my visits.

I no longer see shelters as sad institutions filled with poor
pets who need to be rescued. Shelters are filled with brave animals
ready to step into our lives and enrich and empower us in ways we may
not have imagined. I’m not sure it even makes sense to talk about
“rescuing” when — as many times as not — they’re the ones heaving the
lifelines in our direction. However much we give to these pets, they
give back twice as much. So really, isn’t the rescuing mutual?

After I finished the book, I had this vague sense that my muse was trying to tell me something: I needed rescuing!

in all the shelters I’d visited, there had to be at least one dog up to
the task. Admittedly, it was going to take a special dog to care for
me. Apparently, I have issues. I don’t always mind and my wife insists
that I need to kept on a very short leash. I’ve spent plenty of nights
in crate training with the hope that my messes might be confined or
eliminated. It really hasn’t worked all that well.
I knew it was
going to take a long and hard search to find a dog up the task of
rescuing me. In my mind, the size of the project dictated one big dog.
While I was searching for the perfect truck, I started to also frame in
my mind exactly what it was going to require to save me. Over the next
several weeks, I’m going to share with you how I got to a dog
fully up to the task.